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Vet Microbiol. 2007 Oct 6;124(3-4):358-61. Epub 2007 Apr 8.

Prevention of porcine Clostridium difficile-associated disease by competitive exclusion with nontoxigenic organisms.

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Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Clostridium difficile is widely known as a cause of disease in humans, and has emerged as an important problem in neonatal swine. No commercial product is available for immunoprophylaxis of C. difficile-associated disease, but success in preventing experimental infections in hamsters by use of nontoxigenic strains to competitively exclude toxigenic strains led us to try this method in neonatal pigs. Spores were administered orally to newborn pigs or were sprayed onto perineum and teats of dams. Significantly more piglets were weaned among litters receiving spores orally, and average weaning weights were significantly higher for both treatment groups than for controls. Toxins A and B were detected in 44.8% of litters and 16.5% of piglets born to sprayed sows and 58.3% of litters and 15.4% of piglets in the control group. However, toxins were detected in only 13.8% of litters and 3.4% of piglets given spores orally. These data support a contention that precolonization by a nontoxigenic strain can ameliorate the pre-weaning growth retardation associated with C. difficile infection in piglets.

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